By H.E. Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
on the Third Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministers Meeting
on 22 June 2004, Qingdao, PRC
- I would like to express my profound appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting the Third ACD Meeting and for the excellent arrangements which have contributed to the great success of this important gathering today.
- I wish to thank the City of Qingdao for the warm hospitality extended to all ACD participants.
- This ACD Meeting in Qingdao certainly marks another step forward in the strengthening of our cooperation. Our success is due to the able chairmanship of my Chinese colleague and the leading role of China.
- Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has already covered the main points of discussion we had this morning. The Declaration that we have issued captures our common political will to move forward and provides a framework of our future cooperation. I thank Minister Li and his staff for the excellent work on the Declaration. I wish to make additional observations
- When we started ACD in 2002, no one would have ever imagined that we could have come this far in relatively short time. This is in large part due to the recognition of our need to forge and strengthen Asia-wide cooperation. It is also due to the recognition of the diverse strengths that we, Asians, possess and are able to combine for mutual progress and prosperity of our continent. We all recognize the fact that Asia is a collective force for peace and prosperity of the world at large.
- The ACD has proven to be valuable in the sense that it has provided a forum for in-depth dialogue on international and regional situations and a vehicle for cooperation. This morning we had a substantive and useful dialogue, the main points of which have been already addressed by Minister Li. I believe that such dialogue which we had this morning has allowed for an in-depth and frank exchange of views which has enhanced our common understanding and approaches to various issues affecting peace and security in our region. I only wish to reiterate our concern and condemnation over acts of terrorism and kidnapping of innocent people, most recently being the case of South Korea, wherever they take place and emphasize the need for us to rally together in the face of this common security challenge.
- On the cooperation dimension, I reported to the meeting on the progress in various projects that were implemented over the past year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Prime Movers for their contribution, covering the fields of agriculture, energy, environment, poverty alleviation among so many other areas of cooperation. We recognized that ACD belonged to all of us and our success depends on our concerted efforts in sustaining both dialogue and cooperation dimensions of the forum.
- I wish to highlight 3 important areas where I believe we have enormous potentials to work together (1) energy cooperation, (2) expansion of trade, and (3) development of Asian Bond Market Development. As for the cooperation in the field of energy, we would like to thank China for the Qingdao Initiative that provides an excellent framework for our future cooperation. With regard to the expansion of trade, the meeting recognized that bilateral and sub-regional free trade arrangements have been instrumental in forging partnership among Asian countries, increasing Asia’s competitiveness and expanding our regional and international trade. As for the development of Asian Bond Market, I am pleased to note that we are making steady progress in terms of both demand and supply sides with the view to utilizing the wealth of Asia for Asia’s prosperity.
- Looking ahead in terms of the evolution of ACD process, it is significant to note that the forum is growing not only in scope but also in membership. We welcome the addition of Mongolia, United Arab Emirates and Iran to ACD, which now comprises 25 participating countries.
- As we continue to grow and expand, we have drawn the interest of many countries, even though outside our region. We therefore considered the mechanism for having dialogue partners for non-ACD and non-Asian countries, so that they too can contribute to the progress and prosperity of our region.
- I would like to thank all ACD countries for their trust and confidence in Thailand to continue our role as ACD coordinator until the convening of the next meeting.
- Finally, I would like to congratulate Pakistan as host of the Fourth ACD Foreign Ministers Meeting in 2005 and Qatar as host of the Fifth ACD Foreign Ministers Meeting in 2006. We are confident that under Pakistan’s chairmanship next year, ACD will continue to grow on strength to strength.